Friday, 28 September 2012

Signs and Blunders

Hey all! Sorry for the lack of updates. Been exhausted lately with week 3 of the morning shift. My body clock has pretty much shifted, but I find myself kinda frustrated with the pressure of the first four hours followed by another four hours of doing rather menial tasks and thumb-twiddling. In recent days I've been thinking (as I oft do) of my situation here in Singaypoop, and, coupled with some developments on the theatre front (more on this later, I promise), I'm thinking that my time in this current job just might have an expiration date. But, like I said, more on this later. I promise.

More importantly, today I'd like to talk about signs from God (here's where faithful blog readers, all two of you, sigh loudly and groan). You know how I've been debating about whether or not God is real and whether He looks out for me? And how, when you receive signs and messages, oftentimes you wonder whether it's all a sheer coincidence? Well, here are some more coincidences that happened today.

I was going to meet my good friend Winston for lunch, and I cabbed it to Nex @ Serangoon. When I arrived there, something caught my eye that prompted me to go: "Hmmm, is that a sign? Surely not. In fact, God, I challenge you to give me five signs that you're with me." And, even as I imagined God either sighing and reaching for the smite button, or laughing in scorn while reaching for the smite button, I began to make the list in my head.

1) A big cross hanging from the rear-view mirror in the cab I'd taken to Nex. Granted, it's not like there aren't Christian cabbies in Singapore, but it's really not that common. But never mind.

2) The item that triggered off the five-signs demand: A copy of The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren, which has cropped up a number of times in my spiritual tussle. This time, it was displayed in a Precious Thots store, a gifts and collectables retailer with a Christian slant, so no biggie. Couldn't help but notice the cardboard cut-out glued to the book with huge jagged "explosive" edges exclaiming Recommended! though... but whatever.

3) Later, I walked past a store, Nubox, which sells Apple products (iMacs and iPads and stuff)... and, above the name of the store on the wall, was a small cross that seemed really, really out of place in an electronics store, much less one in a shopping mall in Singapore. Hmmmm. Odd.

4) While catching up with Winston, we were talking about life and stuff, and he says, "Well, the Lord says we will go through trials." Now, he's a Christian, so it's a bit of a stretch to see this as a fourth sign. But then again, as with other signs... is it? Isn't it? I mention my list to him, and he thinks it can't be more obvious; like, duh, Nick. But I said, "Nah. I'm heading straight home after this. Let's see if there's a fifth sign." And I laugh, disdainfully and uncertainly. We had  good, inspiring chat, Winston and I did. But where's that fifth sign?

5) On the way home, a ten-minute MRT train ride at most, there's a man on the train praying with a rosary in his hand. Now, I dunno about you, but I've never seen anyone on a train praying, much less with a rosary in his hand. To be fair, I didn't see the crucifix, but it looked like rosary beads to me, though the man seemed to think I was staring and tried to be discreet, creating just enough doubt in my head to wonder, "Was it a rosary...?" But let's face it, I know rosary beads when I see 'em. That, Nick, was a rosary. (I later told Winston about this, and he says that, in all his years of being in Singaypoop, he has never seen anyone with a rosary on the train. So... Um. Yeah.)

Bam. Five signs, if you wanna see 'em that way. And now I'm back home, having encountered no more signs after that, and I'm blogging, wondering, "What does this all mean?" 

 As Winston said, what might be really sad is if, when I'm face-to-face with God and He asks why I've been ignoring Him, I'd say, "But you didn't give me signs!" ... and God would then log in to Facebook on His heavenly computer, and He might say, "Haiyoh. Five signs on Sept 28th itself, Nick", clicking on my Timeline.

Oy.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Benched Further!

Hey everyone! Here's a little bit more info on my latest book, BENCH, which can now be purchased via various retailers. I've also set up a Facebook author page at facebook.com/NickChooAuthor, for those who would like to find out more about me and my writings!

Title: BENCH
Author: Nick Choo
ISBN: 978-1-47594-688-8
Publisher: iUniverse
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Pages: 428
Hardcover price: US$33.95 / S$45.45 / AU$35.58
Paperback: US$23.95 / S$31.58 / AU$24.73
Ebook: US$3.99


HARDCOVER/PAPERBACK
Amazon.com - http://is.gd/bench_amazon_hardcopy
iUniverse (the publisher) - http://is.gd/bench_publisher
Book Depository - http://is.gd/bench_bookdep

EBOOK
Amazon.com (for Kindle) - http://is.gd/bench_amazon
Kobo Books - http://is.gd/bench_kobo

SYNOPSIS
A solitary wooden structure sits bathed in the shade of a tree. The small, inconspicuous neighborhood park bench seemingly has the power to summon a select few who need a brief respite from life.

Matthew Leigh, a headstrong college student, just wants a peaceful break from the musty university library. As he sits on the bench to eat his lunch, he forges an unlikely friendship with a six-year-old boy that eventually forces him to rethink his entire philosophy on life.

Derrick Weston has just faced rejection from the woman he wants to marry. As he seeks solace on the bench, he has no idea he is about to learn that his girlfriend has a secret that will dramatically impact both their lives.

Joe Cooke and his friends just want to feel free. As they meet at the bench illuminated by moonlight, they all soon learn that actions have consequences and that blood is not always thicker than water.

Septuagenarian Graham Hanson sits there with the love of his life, and learns the true meaning of marriage, companionship, and the phrase, “Till death do us part.”

In this compelling tale, several ordinary people forced to confront complex issues are connected by one common denominator—an old, neglected bench in the middle of a grassy square.

EDITORIAL REVIEW
The basic premise and overall theme of the work is timeless; life is short and we must make the best of it. The author presents it in an exceptionally compelling way, using a bench in a park-like setting as a device. Not only does it communicate the timeless theme of the work, but it also demonstrates how this theme connects all of humanity.

Each of the characters represents a different, existential issue related to the temporality of life and the value of living one’s life to the fullest, in the moment. With the wide variety of moral and existential issues represented by each character, readers are likely to form emotional connections with any one of them or even all of them.

The author’s approach to the structure of the book is brilliant and rare. The characters face realistic challenges that cause each of them to ask deep questions about meaning as it relates to topics such as gender, destiny, sexual orientation, love, God, and death. The characters’ lives will come together in a way that readers won’t likely anticipate. Their epiphany, and perhaps the reader’s, brings the overall theme into focus.

The author has composed an awesome story. ~ iUniverse Editorial Evaluation

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Benched (Again)

And here's the hardcover version I literally just received tonight!

Benched!!!!

Here's a story. About 10 years ago, when I first got to Perth, I sat down and began writing a novel that I titled Bench. It sat dormant on my computer for about a decade, and I'd moved on from the idea of working on it... until this year, when, after all the challenges I've been through, something prompted me to take this book out and have another look at it. What I found was interesting: that I'd apparently been grappling with some pretty deep existential questions even back then; questions on, among others, the existence of God; sexuality; love and relationships. So I spent some time polishing the manuscript and even got my friend Val to help me out, and sent it off to a self-publishing company to see if I couldn't get it actually published as a book proper.

Cut to:


Yaaay!! My book!!! An actual hard copy of it! It's in my hands, and it looks really good! Yippee!!

I'll write more about this soon, but in the meantime, get your hands on a copy by clicking here! Cheers everyone!!



Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Smell The Oxygen

In an effort to add colour to the workplace and increase oxygen, I now have a potted plant on my desk. However, when I got in to work yesterday, I found it had been moved. Subsequently, the plant now bears this little note:


Monday, 10 September 2012

First Day of the 5am Shift...

Hello, all. Am running on fumes at the moment as I got into the office at 4.45am for the first day of a three-month-long morning shift at work. It's not too bad actually, although I didn't get any sleep at all last night since my body's accustomed to going to bed at 4.30am instead of waking up!! Oy!!

Anyway,  I cabbed it to work and walked into a dark, empty office. Kinda creepy, but kinda cool, too. And on my desk, my cheeky colleagues had left me a note. Read it carefully and see what they scribbled out, arf.


Okay, that's about all for now. I should get back to work. Can't believe it's only 10.30am. So this is what a morning looks like. Oy.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Perth 2012: Random Pics


 

Perth 2012: Augusta at the end of August

Here's a video of Judi and me at the coastline near Augusta Lighthouse on Wednesday, with the wind  blowing into the camera's microphone, arf. Enjoy!


Perth 2012: The Final Days!

On Friday, it was wet and rainy, and since Judi and I were sicky, we decided to skip bush-walking in the rain and instead drove to Busselton for breakfast and coffee. Then it was all the way back to Perth, where Judi dropped me off at Chris and Jade's, and we ate overstuffed potatoes with bacon and cheese, mmmm!!

At the coffee place in Busselton for brekkie!
 Later on Friday evening, I managed to catch up with Andrew, Tiffany and Sarah of Children's Theatre fame, and we headed to C15 for coffees and chats, yippee! Twas great to see you guys, even though I barely had a voice by then!

Saturday, Judi, Chris, Arielle, Scott and Carol and I headed to Bernie and Mike's place in Embleton, where we chilled out, relaxed, I tried my hand at Mikey's piano accordion (fun!), and we met the Nyes' cute little bird, Beaker!

Beaker!
The Nyes!
Carl, Judi and Scott (under scrutiny)!
We think, therefore we are.
Later on, we headed to a Thai restaurant for dinner...





...Which included a lovely meal of chicken tom yum, chicken curry, honey pork, ginger beef, rice, pad thai noodles, fried ice cream for Scott, Judi and Carol, and this oddity for Bernie and me: green sago with super-salty coconut milk! Urggh!! Twas nasty, twas! We complained and sent it back, and they brought new serves with the sago and coconut milk separated. Indeed, it was the milk that was oddly salt-saturated, methinks to keep it fresh beyond its natural life. Here's the dessert in question:

Green frogspawn.
I've seen porn like this.
Afterwards, we adjourned to the Nyes', and Scott and I were introduced to the world of Catan, the commodities board game that's more fun than that description sounds, arf!! Incidentally, Judi and I had just watched an episode of Big Bang a couple of nights ago that had Sheldon asking the other guys if "they had wood for his sheep". Naturally, this made us go berserk with double-entendre-driven laughter throughout our game that evening!

The game in action!
Wassup girl! (Bernie won.)
Eventually it was time to go, and so I said goodbye to those I wouldn't be seeing again till my next visit...

Squeeze.
Awkward handshake.
Just one of the many quirky things we do...
This morning, I bade farewell to the Plottkes, andthen Judi picked me up for a lovely lunch at Terazza before dropping me off at the airport.

"And this was the toast I made earlier..."
Byebye Nickie.
Byebye Judie.
And now I'm back in hot and humid Singaypoo, feeling sicky with the flu and whatnot, wishing the holiday didn't have to end, but looking forward to the next trip down under! Thanks for a lovely time, folks! Bye, Mernie/Bike! Bye, Scarol/Carott! Bye, Chade/Jis! Bye, Trosie! Bye, Beattie! See you guys again real sooooon!!

Don't go too far... still more stuff to come!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Perth 2012: Mussels and Margaret River

Hey all! Whew, it's been a very, very exciting and tiring few days of... um... really, doing nothing, LOL! Today (Sunday) is the final day of my 11-day visit to Perth, and wouldn't you know it, I've been saddled with a goshdurn nasty chesty cough (hehe, the word 'chesty' makes me laugh, all juvenile-like) and sore throat; on the verge, I suspect, of succumbing to a full-blown flu-like condition. Shame it had to strike during these past few days (my voice right now is a very, very sexy growl, a la Nickelback or Macy Gray), but hey, I think the flipside might be that I can finally take sick leave when I get back to Singypoo, arf arf! But I digress.

So let's recap what's been going on the past few days! On Tuesday, the day after the steamboat night, I managed to head down to uni and catch up with Jenny (of Children's Theatre) fame with some thoughts and ideas on theatrical projects for next year. More on this another time, of course! Then, in the evening, Judi, Jade, Chris, Arielle and I headed to Freo, where we had dinner of seafood chowder and mussels practically on the edge of the water at the Mussel Bar. Here are some pics of us!

Hee heee!!
Chris-lah, doing his best impression of a coat rack.
Chris does the hand-growl while Arielle oohs and aahs.
Later that evening, Judi and I headed to our favourite coffee spot, C15 @ Applecross, and spent a quiet evening over hot beverages. Heeere's Judi!

I think, therefore I am.
The following day, Wednesday, was the first of Judi's and my three-day trip down to Margaret River for a lovely getaway in the country! We'd decided earlier on to do this just to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life; to chill and relax for a little bit, exploring the beaches and bush, watching reruns of Will and Grace and The Big Bang Theory; pigging out on ice-creams and junk food and pastas from the local proprietors, etc. In short, a grand ol' time doin' nothing much at all, really!! Apart from my koffing and hacking and hemming and hawing, I had an absolute ball. Thaaanks, Judi!! Here are some photos of our trip! Don't forget you can click on 'em for fuller views!

I saw a sign, and it opened up my eyes, I saw a sign.
Trekking near the Augusta lighthouse.
The aforementioned lighthouse.
Yeah, when just two people are vacationing, expect to see one or the other, or both.
Judi overlooking the coast.
Lunch, which was really high tea, at a place whose name I forget.
Mmm scones!
The following morning: Coffee, fresh air and wild hair.
Here we are again.
Bangers and mash at The Berry Farm!
Judi's lunch.
A little birdy ventures forth to be our friend.
...and hides behind the bottle of water.
Close enough to touch.
Another friend!
And yet another friend! Yay to friends all round!
The Little House, literally the little house where we stayed at!
Porch.
Port.
Chillin'.
Also on the second day, Judi and I headed to the beach and took some terrific panoramic shots. Here, I shall let the pictures paint thousands of words because they can... and because it's late and I'm getting really sleepy, arf arf.

Sandy! Can't you see? I'm in misery!
On rocky ground.
One of many sunny scenery shots we shot!
Told ya.
Wheeeee!!
Love this pic.
Proof of civilisation.
Sun of a beach.
Thinking.
Pondering.
Snoring.
Sexay.
Judi's new Facebook profile photo.
Humpin' the ocean, as Terry says. Oy.
To be continued... Coming up next, the final days in Perth, for this trip at least! See you soon!